There were strong reactions to @shaka's picture this week. That is what a photographer hopes for. It seems many people did not like the scene depicted in the photo: earth ravaged by construction equipment.
Here is @shaka's brilliant, effective image:
I looked at the construction site, and the gouged cliff. I wasn't having any fun with that, so I considered the background. Ah, there! That was better. Green valleys and hills. I moved a couple of buildings from the construction site and placed them in the verdant area of the picture. Then I went to work and had great fun. I don't compete in the contest. I just love making these collages.
I decided to make my scene 'green' in more ways than one. Windmills, solar panels, a water mill, and oxen. All of these provide energy (to do work) without the use of fossil fuels. The oxen have the added benefit of being fertilizer factories (manure).
The pond is clean. Turtles can float without a worry. Fish flourish. Whoever owns this land, I promise, will never sell or lease it to someone that wants to strip mine.
Some Information About Strip Mining
I recall my childhood home. A beautiful, bucolic, peaceful view I could see from my bedroom window was destroyed suddenly one day by a strip miner. A grassy knoll that had been part of my life was dug up and carried off for the gravel that resided beneath the grass. Ever since that day, strip mining for me has been one of the cardinal sins.
A website called Future Market Insights suggests that strip mining is 'safer' than other methods of extracting resources from the earth. However, the site admits, "from an environmental perspective, surface mining tends to have an extensive and more prominent impact on the surrounding environment." In the article, the authors refer to strip mining as 'surface mining.'
Strip Mining in Monterey, Fulton County, GA USA, (1973)
Image credit: Arthur Greenberg, US National Archives. Public domain. The caption under this picture reads: "After land has been stripped, the cut often fills with water from underground springs and rain. Since all topsoil is removed, the stripped land remains barren."
Another website, Environment, describes not only the harm done by strip mining (also called open cast and mountaintop mining), but explains that efforts to reclaim stripped land are usually not successful. The website asserts that 40% of coal mines in the world are strip mines. In Australia, that percentage rises to 80%.
Mining for Gold: Strip Mine in Ravenswood, Queensland, AU
Image credit: Rob and Stephanie Levey from Townsville, Australia. Used under CC 2.0 generic license.
Strip mining destroys trees, plants, habitats, topsoil. The destruction of topsoil, and everything that holds it together, leads to erosion, and loss of agricultural land. Efforts at land reclamation have a poor record because the soil is so severely damaged. The website Environment (cited above) reports that in the U.S. state of Montana, reclamation attempts were successful 20% to 30% of the time. In Colorado attempts were successful only 10% of the time.
According to Environment, in 2004 strip mining in China affected 3.2 million hectares of land. Reclamation was successful 10-12% of the time.
Some other effects of strip mining (Information from Environment): Silt and sediment wash into waterways, hurt fish and plant life, lead to flooding. Chemicals pollute groundwater and watersheds. Dust from the mining pollutes the air.
Why do miners favor strip mining? Because it is more profitable than underground mining. It requires less labor and yields more mineral.
What Can We Do?
All mining damages the environment. Maybe we should look at my collage again and think of ways to limit our use of resources so the need for mining is, if not eliminated, at least greatly reduced. That would be a good beginning.
As I explained earlier in this blog, I didn't want to spend time with the construction scene and stripped earth. It turned out that I made a good decision. My collage was a restful place to let my imagination roam. Creating this image actually took many hours. I added a canvas filter and border from Gimp because I wanted to conjure the impression of a painting.
To make the collage, I used only #LIL images and my own resources. Great thanks to the these #LMAC artists for their #LIL pictures:
@muelli: Ox, Solar Panels
@quantumg: Mill House
Anyone on Hive can borrow images from the library. And please, everyone, contribute pictures. This library is a vital resource for the Hive community.
Have you, my readers, tried your hand at playing with one of @shaka's pictures? That's how I view the collage exercise, creative play. In addition to the fun, there are prizes. Check out this week's contest announcement for details.
You can stop in the LMAC Discord channel to say hello and ask questions. It's a friendly place.
Thank you @shaka for giving so many people an opportunity to create and to participate in this wonderful community, part of the larger Hive community. Thank you to all members of LMAC for helping to make this a dynamic place. And thank you, readers, for reading my blog.